We Need To Teach Our Kids That Assault Is Never A Prank
We have to teach our kids all kinds of unpleasant things; how to use a toilet, not to eat dirt and dryer lint, and that there is no such thing as a guinea pig farm where deceased furry rodents get to run free. Let us, for good measure, add one more thing to that list: the difference between a prank and assault.
Someone forgot to tell Sam Pepper, a British “comedian”, what the difference was, and now he’s all bewildered that internet people got his disturbing video of himself walking around groping women and filming their reactions taken down.
Let me see if I can catch Pepper up. Spreading coconut oil on a toilet rim so that your older sister slides off when she sits down is a prank. Grabbing a stranger’s ass and filming yourself doing it is assault. The old “baby powder in the hair dryer” trick: prank. The old “groping a woman you don’t know on the street” trick: assault.
See the difference?
Apparently not, because it isn’t the first time he’s done something like this, either. In one video, Pepper went around handcuffing himself to women and telling them that he was
now their boyfriend. In both videos, the women who laugh do so nervously, and the women who don’t sometimes beg or plead for him to stop. In Pepper’s butt-grabbing video, the very first woman says, “I don’t like that” and he doesn’t care. It’s grotesque, and honestly I’m glad it’s been taken down because it’s both hard for me to watch and hard for me to stop watching.
I’ve had to talk to my daughter about inappropriate touching. We are a family who talks about butts a lot. If my husband asks what I need from the store, my answer is invariably “butts”, and “Oh, buttocks” has replaced most swear words in this house. For years we’ve playfully swatted each other’s butts, and when she recently told me that made her uncomfortable, I stopped immediately. It was a good time for a talk. It wasn’t hard for me to explain that we don’t touch people without permission and that if someone touches us without our permission, we are within our rights to put an end to it. No, my feelings weren’t hurt that she didn’t want me to touch her butt. No, she didn’t have to apologize for not wanting me to do that.
So, if my seven-year-old can grasp the concept, why can’t Pepper? Later he pulled out the whole “this was all a big social experiment” derailing technique hoping to deflect some of the heavy criticism he’s received since he posted the original video. I call bullshit. His “reveal” video is chock full of concern that we don’t show the same outraged disgust when men are assaulted, and by assaulting women he was highlighting society’s hypocrisy.
I would say to that what I would tell a child: we don’t lift someone up by stepping on someone else. We don’t assault women to stand up against assault against men. Pepper has posted so many videos that fall into this creepy category that it’s hard to believe he isn’t just being defensive. This is just the first to be taken down.
I hope that I do a good job teaching my own kid how to treat people and how violating a person’s bodily autonomy is never funny, no matter the person’s sex or gender. I hope other people will do the same thing. If for some reason the message doesn’t sink in, I hope I can at least teach her to take responsibility for herself when someone calls her out, which is more than we can hope for from Sam Pepper.